Learn About Requirements for WIC

The Federal Government designed the Special Supplemental Nutrition program WIC to provide food support for eligible women, child and infant applicants.

The WIC program helps applicants reach optimal levels of nutrition.

To qualify for benefits, applicant families must meet the categorical, residential, income and nutrition risk requirements.

Once a candidate qualifies, the duration that he or she receives benefits for will last depending on the severity of his or her situation and needs.

Benefits are distributed via check or direct deposit. Applicants who qualify in the priority list may also be able to participate for a longer duration of time than other beneficiaries.

In addition, they may also qualify for other government assistance programs such as SNAP, though these applications would need to be submitted separately.

Even though this program aims to provide support to low income qualifying individuals, any family can complete the WIC application process.

However, at least one of their family members must meet the categorical requirement for families to be able to apply.

Benefit recipients must provide proof of their address and collect cash assistance only from the nearest WIC office.

Currently, there are 90 state agencies in charge of administering WIC benefits to residents that apply.

On the other hand, there are only one or two WIC headquarter locations from the Food and Nutrition Service.

They are the entity in charge of funding the program’s state and local agencies.

WIC eligibility standards are the same across all of its locations, but there are differences in the preferences some states give to certain applicants.

For instance, Georgia offers priority to postpartum minors while some states do not.

Candidates may read the sections below to learn more about the program’s eligibility requirements.

Learn About Categorical WIC Requirements

Women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have recently given birth can access WIC food assistance.

Other applicants, such as infants and pregnant women who are underweight or suffer from other malnutrition conditions will qualify for priority placement.

The program’s three main categories of applicants who qualify for aid are women, infants and children.  

Applicants that are one year of age or younger fall under the infant category.

On the other hand, applicants older than one year of age and younger than five qualify as children.

As for women who apply for WIC, they do not have to be married or have any other children of age to receive WIC benefits.

To prove their eligibility for benefits, women applicants must fall in one of the following categories to qualify for benefits:

  • Pregnant
  • Up to six months postpartum
  • Breastfeeding up to the infant’s first birthday

Furthermore, the program highly encourages those postpartum beneficiaries to breastfeed their children.

Therefore, applicants who are breastfeeding will receive priority from the program over other non-breastfeeding, postpartum women.

Fathers may also apply for WIC benefits for their family, even though they do not meet the categorical requirements.

This way, entire families may benefit from WIC support as long as one of their members meet the categorical requirement.

For example, single fathers of children younger than 5 years of age may qualify. This same standard also applies for step-parents, foster parents and legal guardians.

Learn About Income Guidelines for WIC

Through the U.S., income guidelines are divided into three main categories, which are Alaska, Hawaii and the rest of the 48 states including Washington D.C.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets the income limits every year, and they cover the middle of the current year until the middle of the following year.

The department updates the requirements every financial year, and they are determined by family size as well as the federal income against the national poverty level.

Applicants must find the income requirements for them and their families to determine if they can receive WIC benefits.

To do so, candidates must compare their gross annual income to the limits set by the USDA for their family size.

To determine their family size, applicants must count pregnant women as two members of their family.

The program does not require applicants to prove legal relationship to one another, but they must provide documentation to verify their income eligibility.

Some applicants may automatically meet the income eligibility if they already participate in other government programs.

These programs include:

  • SNAP or food stamps
  • Medicaid
  • TANF

Note: Some applicants may also satisfy the income requirements by participating in eligible state programs.

Candidates must visit their local WIC office for more information on qualifying programs.

Learn About WIC Nutritional Risk Requirements

According to WIC guidelines applicants must schedule a doctor’s appointment to estimate their nutritional risk.

This assessment is one of the most significant requirements for the program, which also makes it different from other food assistance programs.

Therefore, WIC’s guidelines to determine nutritional risk are necessary to establish eligibility and for the programs staff to create the adequate food packages for families.

To complete the assessment, WIC applicants may visit one of the program’s locations to see a nutritionist or doctor at no cost.

Other options include visiting their own family doctor so that their family feels more comfortable.

In this case, candidates must provide the WIC office the medical documentation that the doctor gives the applicants during their visit.

These documents serve as evidence for the WIC office of the applicant’s nutritional risk.

The documentation must correspond to the qualifying categorical member of the family.

Moreover, participants must have one of the conditions listed in the WIC manual to satisfy the nutritional risk requirement.

Conditions listed in the manual include medical conditions, history of a difficult pregnancy and diet-related conditions such as anemia.

Where to Apply For WIC

Since benefits are distributed locally, it is important that families apply for WIC at their corresponding local office.

There are no requirements for how long a family has to live in a certain area for them to apply at the nearest location.

Moreover, current beneficiaries will keep receiving WIC support for the totality of their benefit period even if they move somewhere else.

Once WIC participants move, they are placed on top of the waiting list of their new state of residence.

To qualify for this relocation benefit, applicants must complete the WIC benefits transfer process and they will start receiving support as soon as it becomes available.

Learn About WIC Priority Access

Families who are considered by the program as priority typically receive assistance first.

The WIC priority system is designed to ensure that participants who need the most support have access to it in a quicker way.

State agencies determine the priority level of applicants and may be different between agencies.

An applicant who has priority in one location may not qualify for the same level of priority if he or she relocates and transfers benefits.

WIC places applicants in one of the seven different levels of priority.

For instance, underweight pregnant women fall under priority one, while priority seven goes to current WIC participants who may be at risk of suffering from malnutrition if they no longer receive benefits.

Applicants should visit their local WIC office to understand the priority level that they fall into.